It might have started after I read Cheaper by the Dozen
or maybe it was the result of living across the street from a family with eleven children… whatever it was that ignited the idea, I knew I wanted 12 children, and told my almost-fiance (now-husband, Lennie) that exact number when we had “THE TALK”.
We negotiated and settled at four; in reality we were blessed with two healthy boys. When I was 37, due to health reasons, I had to have surgery that eliminated the possibility of ever having more children. We cried and mourned, then moved on, determined to be thankful for the healthy sons we had… and we were… but I still mourned the other children that we did not have. In our minds, adoption was not an option… too expensive… and too much heartache. So I folded up my dreams of a big, loud, raucous family and tucked them away.
Six years later, in 2001, we began attending a new church and became friends with a family who did foster care. As we became acquainted with their children, we fell in love with their children – two in particular – and God opened the door of our hearts, and the adoption process began. On December 21, 2001 Sarah and Midas came home to our family – just in time for Christmas! Lennie was hooked when little Sarah threw her arms around him, put her little face in front of his and declared, “I want YOU to be my daddy!”
Did we have a lot of questions? Oh yes… so many! Apprehensions? Oh yes… so many! But, sometimes (a lot of times, actually) we go into situations not even knowing the questions to ask, let alone the answers, but we know that God is leading us and we, in faith, followed. God had heard my prayers… knew my dreams… and here He was… fulfilling them! AMAZING!!!
And so, our family grew to six… Britt was 17, Braden was 15, Sarah was 8 and Midas, 6. Life was full… good complete. The next seven years flew by. When Sarah was 15, she initiated the idea of doing foster care, so we prayed about it and moved forward. Our goal was to minister to children while working toward reunification with their birth family. “Can we adopt more children?” Sarah asked. “No, we don’t think so. Reunification with the birth family is our ministry” was our answer.
Our first placement came the same night we were hosting a dinner for 25 people in our home. The two-year-old boy was charming, the three-year-old girl was adorable, and her nine-year-old sister was quiet and polite. Our guests held them on their laps and cooed over them, and the evening progressed as planned. Then the reality hit… I would be changing diapers… potty training… singing “the wheels on the bus go round and round” umpteen times! I hadn’t done this in twenty years! Was I too old? Did I still have another round left in me? Lions and tigers and bears… Oh MY!!
Within a month we were asked to consider adopting these 3 beautiful children whom we had come to love. We considered, prayed, talked, and prayed some more. Our answer was confirmed when our oldest son and his wife assured us that if anything happened to us they would take care of the children. And so, by God’s grace, we were able to welcome Stephanie, Jasmine (Jazzi), and “Uncle” Bryon into our “forever” family. Bryon began to refer to himself as “Uncle Bryon” due to our grandson, Owen, being born during this time, which required his telling of the story about “Heidi having a baby named Owen” to all who would ask him about the title he attached to his name. I, however, refer to Bryon as “my fountain of youth” as I am sure he will keep me young!
If laughter is considered the best medicine, then we will surely be very healthy! I’ll never forget the morning that I called up the stairs, “BRYON… it’s time to wake up!” to which he replied, “I CAN’T Mommy… I’m still sleeping!!” Or the time this took place: BRYON (with great excitement!!): MOMMY… I am getting arm-pit hair… I AM growing!!! I was speechless. What do you say to that??? People have told Midas his hair is the same color as mine… they have told Sarah she has my EXACT mannerisms. People have looked at us as we go places with all the kids in tow and exclaim, “Are they ALL yours?” To which we reply, “ Yes… they ALL are!”
Life at Ingleside (our 8 acre farm where we homeschool, experiment in backyard biology, and celebrate birthdays, graduations, homecomings, weddings, births, and life in general) is never boring… “Never a dull moment” one dear friend commented upon our family. Retirement is not in our vocabulary… I will be 67 when Bryon graduates in 2025, and I am SO looking forward to the next twelve years… welcoming more into our family (grandchildren, spouses, etc.) and seeing how God uses each one of our children to further His Kingdom and for His glory.
I cannot imagine life any differently nor would I want it any other way. Life is very good… and very full… and very complete… for now.